Have you ever read something your friend wrote, where it feels like you can hear them inside your mind, saying the words you’re currently reading? If you have, you probably have an intimate understanding of the unique words, phrases, and tones that differentiate their voice from others. Brands are no different. A brand voice is a brand’s way of communicating its unique values and personality across multiple platforms. Some of the best examples include Allstate’s slogan (Are You In Good Hands?) and Caprisun’s campaign from the early 2010s (Respect The Pouch! Respect It!). Here’s how you can develop a brand voice of your own.
You must have a solid understanding of who you are and what you stand for before effectively communicating it to others. You can do this by crafting a mission statement – a set of values and goals everyone in the company strives to follow. Remember to keep it short. Your mission statement should easily define your purpose, while your brand voice will demonstrate it.
Make a List of Do’s and Don’ts
Now that you have established a general mission statement, it’s time to get specific. Choose 3-5 characteristics that best describe your brand, or that you want others to associate with your brand (reliable, bold, humorous). Then, write a short description explaining how and why you embody that trait. Finally, draft a list of dos and don’ts for each word surrounding those qualities. For example: if you chose comedic as a descriptor, you do want to utilize banter and witty comments in your copy, but you don’t want to describe the product in a stale manner. It can be helpful to put this information into a table, as shown below.
|Reliable||“We’re always available at all hours to help customers when they need us”||Be reassuring, and friendly.
Use a comforting tone across platforms
|Bold||“We make a strong impression on everyone we communicate with”||Use short yet attention-grabbing sentences.||Use elegant language|
|Humorous||“We entertain as well as inform”||Utilize banter and witty comments in copy.||Describe the product at face value.|
Once you’ve established who you are, it’s time to create a vocabulary to reflect this. Make a list of keywords to use frequently across social media, web content, and printed materials. Think back to the personality you created for your brand above. Does your brand use slang terms? Is it loud and exuberant, or does it exude quiet confidence? After finding your keywords, make a separate list of words your brand should never use. Promote consistency of language and reduce the chances of accidentally straying away from your brand’s unique voice and personality.
Know Your Audience
While brand personality is essential, customers are what keep it afloat. To communicate effectively, you must understand your audience with meticulous attention to detail. One effective way to do this is by creating personas – fictional characters who represent ideal consumers. A good persona includes qualitative data describing the character’s personality and quantitative details, such as age and salary. You should also include their goals, frustrations, and motivations. After you’ve created your personas, identify what kind of content these characters interact with best. Then, go back and add to your characteristic table and keyword list if needed.
Now that you’ve found your brand voice, set guidelines that assure you don’t distort the brand identity by taking it too far or not far enough. Revisit the characteristics you named earlier in step 3 and add any more you see fit. Then, create a This Not That list, which can help serve as an indicator for when you’ve exaggerated your voice. For example:
- Reliable not Overbearing
- Bold not Cocky
- Humorous, not facetious
Before running any branded material, check that it reflects the words on the left without diverging into the words on the right.
Congratulations! You’ve found your brand voice – now use it! Remember to explain it thoroughly to your entire team to maintain consistency in every aspect of your company. If you’re struggling to identify your brand voice or personality give us a call! Michigan Creative is more than happy to help uncover the identity hidden within your brand. Contact us today or subscribe to our monthly newsletter, The Creative, for more information.